Welcome to My Blog!

Hi, I’m Suzann Thompson. Thanks for being here!

I hope you will enjoy reading about my creative projects. Please feel free to leave comments on the blog, or if you prefer email, the address is knitandcrochetwithsuzann at outlook dot com.

Suzann Thompson

Warm regards,

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Celebrate Doilies, Comanche

Celebrate Doilies in Comanche, Texas

The Celebrate Doilies exhibit and the 4 North Event Center in Comanche, TX, were a perfect match for one week at the end of March 2018. The wedding venue married the vintage beauty of the building on the courthouse square to the vintage doily heritage and doily-inspired art.

You might say that Comanche is in northwest Central Texas, and it is one of the last few stops before the great expanses of West Texas begin. Buildings around the courthouse retain their attractive western flair, and decorated bicycles are permanently parked in front of several businesses. I passed this one on my way to and from the car, unloading wall hangings and doily heritage posters. Someone had fun embellishing it with old crochet, and I took it as a good omen for the exhibit.

I hung several pieces, including House of Crochet, Sweet Home, and Afternoon in the enclosed patio at the Event Center. The natural light is perfect for viewing and photographing artwork (and people, I’m guessing). The space feels good, and I told Charles I’d love to have my living room on that patio.

Celebrate Doilies in Comanche, Texas

Light from the patio streams through French doors leading into the elegant main room, where I displayed the doily heritage posters and several wall hangings, like Crochet Comets. I love how the celestial elements of comets and a sunray come together in this photo.

Celebrate Doilies in Comanche, Texas

Another set of French doors leads to the Beer Garden, which is welcoming and comfortable. German-style food is served a few days of the week. We are definitely coming in for a German meal someday, without doilies, to enjoy the Gemütlichkeit.

The Beer Garden at 4 North Event Center, Comanche, Texas

The baling twine doily at Celebrate Doilies in Comanche, Texas

Many thanks to Sloane Northridge for her enthusiasm for having Celebrate Doilies at the 4 North Event Center. The venue normally hosts weddings and other celebrations, and I recommend it for its elegance and for Sloane’s knowledgeable management.

I enjoyed seeing friends and meeting doily enthusiasts during the week Celebrate Doilies was in Comanche.

Celebrate Doilies is a traveling exhibit. If you’d like to see the exhibit at a gallery near you, please ask the venue manager to visit www.textilefusion.com/celebrate-doilies-exhibit-details. We can work it out!

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Crochet a Shamrock for St. Patrick’s Day

You still have a time before St. Patrick’s Day to crochet a shamrock table mat or ornament!

Crochet a shamrock with this pattern available at Ravelry

The pattern is part of my “Sweet Picot Heart” collection, available through Ravelry.

The Shamrock is one of the projects in my “Sweet Picot Heart Motif and More” pattern, which also includes

  • the Sweet Picot Heart motif
  • a heart table mat
  • written and charted instructions photos to help you visualize the
    instructions better
  • how to join heart motifs
  • how to do an invisible join at the end of the last round
  • the inspiration for the pattern
  • nice suggestions for using the heart motifs
  • permission to sell items you make with this pattern

For each “Sweet Picot Heart and More” sold, I will donate one dollar to the Comanche (TX) All Pets Alive group, which compassionately cares for stray pets until their owners are found or until new homes are found for them.

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Santa Train Finished on Time

All kinds of things happened last fall. I was going to add, “as usual,” but really, more than the usual stuff happened last fall. My final Christmas in July report got forgotten in the shuffle.

The good news is that the Santa Train was finished on time!

You can see reports on Weeks 1-12 if you go back in the blog posts to July, August, and September 2017. Here’s the final report of how starting early and pacing yourself works for finishing Christmas projects.

In Week 13, I finished the second candy cane and did the wreath and gift box for the train.

Candy canes, toys, gifts for Santa train kit, number 86365 by Bucilla, one week at a time

Week 14 was about putting a bow on the wreath and starting the teddy. Candy canes, toys, gifts for Santa train kit, number 86365 by Bucilla, one week at a time

The teddy and a Christmas ornament for the train’s roof were the jobs for Week 15. Candy canes, toys, gifts for Santa train kit, number 86365 by Bucilla, one week at a time

The teddy bear turned out so cute, you need to see him up close. the teddy bear on the Santa train kit, number 86365 by Bucilla

And finally, we come to Week 16, when I made the green gift box with lots of little embroidered exes (xs?), sewed it and the second candy cane on the train roof, and attached the hanging loop. Yay! It’s finished! Candy canes, toys, gifts for the Santa train kit, number 86365 by Bucilla, one week at a time

Candy canes, toys, gifts for the Santa train kit, number 86365 by Bucilla, one week at a time

We hung the Santa Train inside our front door, where every time we went in or out, it sparkled thrillingly. Santa train felt kit, number 86365 by Bucilla, finished

Christmas in July project for 2018
I have two more Christmas felt and sequin kits somewhere. They are probably in a moving box from when we came back to Texas in 2003. There are a few of those still in my parents’ storage barn.

My job between now and July is to find all those old boxes and clean them out. If the kits show up, great! One will be my project for Christmas in July 2018. If they don’t show up, here’s a peek at my Plan B for 2018.

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Celebrate Doilies on the Move

All set up for What to Do with Grandmother's Doilies presentation

Make plans soon to see the Celebrate Doilies exhibit at the W. K. Gordon Center for Industrial History, in Mingus, Texas. The exhibit will be there through March 15, 2018. For hours and other details, please visit the Exhibition Schedule. The Gordon Center is on I-20, between Weatherford and Eastland.

Shae Adams, the Center’s curator, mounted the exhibit and organized our “What to Do with Grandmother’s Doilies” presentation on February 25th. She and I were talking about why a doily exhibit might be a good fit for the Gordon Center. Shae said, “Crocheting doilies is a home industry.” How true!

Sandi Horton playing flute at the What to Do with Grandmother's Doilies presentation

The photos are from our presentation. I talked about how to take care of doilies, doily projects you can do, and more. Sandi read poetry about her family’s needlework, and played a short musical prayer on her Indian flute. We had a fun and interactive crowd from Mineral Wells, Gordon, and as far as Proctor, Texas.

Suzann at the What to Do with Grandmother's Doilies presentation

The Gordon Center has artifacts and displays about the company town of Thurber, Texas. In many a Texas town with red brick streets, the bricks were made in Thurber. When I was there with friends, we watched a film about the town. It seemed like a wonderful community, but it was difficult to move away from Thurber, since workers were paid in company scrip, which merchants outside the town wouldn’t accept as payment.

Plan to spend some time, if you go, to see the exhibit and the permanent displays and film about Thurber.

Suzann's Constant Comets wall hanging and Sandi Horton's family heirloom crochet at the Gordon Center

If you can’t make it to the Gordon Center, Celebrate Doilies will be at the 4 North Event Center in Comanche, Texas, from March 19th through the 25th. The hours will be Monday-Friday, 4-7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. I’ll be there the whole time, so come and see me!

Sandi Horton and I will give a short presentation in Comanche on Saturday, March 24th, at 2 p.m.

Celebrate Doilies is booked at the German Free School in Austin, Texas, in May. Many of the doily wall hangings will be in a special showing of quilts at Tarleton State University, Stephenville, Texas, in July. I’ll post more information about those venues in the months to come.

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Sweet Picot Heart

Sweet Picot Heart crochet patternUse any yarn to crochet the Sweet Picot Heart motif, from crochet cotton thread to bulky yarn. Use the hearts to tuck into a Valentine’s card, as mug rugs, and as embellishment for garments or accessories. I’ve got you covered on the instructions: they are both written and charted.

The crocheted Sweet Picot Heart motif pattern is for sale now on Ravelry.

The “Sweet Picot Heart Motif and More” pattern includes

  • the Sweet Picot Heart motif
  • a heart table mat
  • a shamrock table mat
  • written and charted instructions photos to help you visualize the
    instructions better
  • how to join heart motifs
  • how to do an invisible join at the end of the last round
  • the inspiration for the pattern
  • nice suggestions for using the heart motifs

Sweet Picot Heart crochet patternFor each “Sweet Picot Heart and More” sold, I will donate one dollar to the Comanche (TX) All Pets Alive group, which compassionately cares for stray pets until their owners are found or until new homes are found for them.

Sweet Picot Heart crochet pattern

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Fishy Cento

Britain’s National Gallery recently started #artgold on Twitter to promote their Art Gold film series. People and museums took over the hashtag, tweeting golden artifacts, golden jewelry, and art of gold. I got into the act, too, because my wall hanging Fishy Cento was partly inspired by a painting in the National Gallery.

Fishy Cento, a TextileFusion artwork by Suzann Thompson

I was preparing artwork for my first solo exhibit, which opened in the winter of 2002 at the Colour Museum in Bradford, U. K. In other words, I was preoccupied with wall hangings most of the time.

detail of Fishy Cento, a TextileFusion artwork by Suzann Thompson

“Mom, will you ever make me a wall hanging?” asked my then six-year-old daughter, Eva, with a look of yearning on her sweet face. How could I resist? She loved fish, so we agreed on a fishy wall hanging.

The fish in her own aquarium were the models, but they didn’t take orders very well. “Hey, fish! Hold still, so I can draw you!”

Nope.

They darted around, ignoring me. Eventually, though, I cobbled together a pretty good sketch Eva’s fish, and they appear in Fishy Cento. Speedy is the Golden Orfe and I think the red fish is Bulgey.

detail of Fishy Cento, a TextileFusion artwork by Suzann Thompson

When it came time to create a background for these woolly fish, my process came to a standstill. The aquarium water was clear, so the background to the actual fish was the wall behind the aquarium. Black makes bright colors pop, but black background seemed too stark. People think of water as being blue, but even if it is blue, you wouldn’t see the blue-ness in the small area the wall hanging portrayed.

My Sheffield friends Betty Spence and Helen Neale and I met for a coffee one day during my struggle (unbeknownst to them) with the background color. Helen had been to the National Gallery in London. She told about a painting of a horse, which had a golden background. No pastures or barns to distract from this horse—oh no—just the horse, surrounded by gold. The painting was probably Whistlejacket (c. 1762), by George Stubbs.

detail of Fishy Cento, a TextileFusion artwork by Suzann Thompson

Bingo! I had my background color. Thank you, Helen!

The next question is, what in the world is a cento? I found it one day when I was reading the dictionary, looking for words with “cent” in them. It can mean ‘a patchwork garment’ or ‘a collection of verse.’

The fish have patchwork garments, so there’s that. I also wrote some fishy verse to use on this wall hanging, but as the piece progressed, it became obvious that the poems wouldn’t fit into the picture. They’ll have to wait for Fishy Cento 2.

In closing, I recommend reading the dictionary. It’s pretty interesting. Also, next time you’re on Twitter, look up #artgold. You’ll see wonders.

See more of my textile art wall hangings in the Gallery section of this website.

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Make Your Own Buttons

Make buttons to match your projects

Do you have trouble finding the perfect buttons for your handmade garments? Don’t agonize—make your own! Take a polymer clay button workshop or two from me, Suzann Thompson, author of Polymer Clay for Everyone, learn basic polymer clay technique, and make several stunning button styles.

I offer two 6-hour workshops for beginners, about making polymer clay buttons. Each workshop stands alone, so you can take the workshops in any order. I cover polymer clay basics and hints in both workshops. You’ll take home at least two dozen delightful, machine-washable and dryable buttons.

Even if you’ve never tried polymer clay crafting before, you are welcome to spend a day or two playing—and I do mean playing—with polymer clay.

To book one of these workshops, please email me at knitandcrochetwithsuzann at outlook dot com.

Make Your Own Buttons Workshop

Faux Lapis from Suzann's Polymer Clay Button Workshop

In “Make Your Own Buttons from Polymer Clay” (sometimes I call it “Polymer Clay Button Boutique 1”), we start with a fake or faux lapis button technique. The buttons are complete with sparkly inclusions, just like real lapis.

Easy but effective swirl buttons are next. They are quick to make and customize with the perfect colors for your garment or other project. These are my favorites.

Swirl Button from Suzann's Polymer Clay Button Workshop Swirl Buttons from Suzann's Polymer Clay Button Workshop

Millefiori is a glass technique that polymer clay crafters have taken over and made their own. We’ll do a group millefiori project, and the buttons will turn out something like this:

Group Millefiori Buttons from Suzann's Workshop Group Millefiori Button Project

After lunch, we make crazy polymer patchwork buttons and learn a clever way to use clay scraps. Here are some crazy patchwork buttons:

Crazy Polymer Patchwork buttons

Make More Buttons Workshop

“Make More Buttons,” sometimes called “Polymer Clay Button Boutique 2,” is another six-hour workshop for beginners. It is completely stand-alone, meaning that you don’t need any experience with polymer clay to take this class. All the buttons we make in this workshop are different from the ones in my other button workshop.

We start with imitation or faux turquoise, then move on to a traditional millefiori design—a flower. The word “millefiori” means “thousand flowers. When you learn this technique, you’ll be surprised at how simple and versatile it is.

Samples from Polymer Clay Button Workshop

After lunch, we tackle mica-shift, a technique that results in sophisticated-looking and subtle buttons. Finally, we make polymer clay mosaic buttons and learn clever ways to use scraps.

Previous Workshops

Here are photos from button workshops I’ve done in the past. Participants had a great time and made lots of fun buttons!


Student Buttons from Polymer Clay Button Workshop  Polymer Clay Button Workshop  Polymer Clay Button Workshop

Grade school students made these buttons in a 4H sewing camp:

Buttons from 4H Camp  Buttons from 4H Camp  Buttons from 4H Camp  Buttons from 4H Camp

We bake buttons in class. Here they are, lined up for their turn in the toaster oven.

Baking Buttons

My book Polymer Clay for Everyone is out of print, but you can buy it online. Amazon.com often has the book for one cent plus shipping. It’s a bargain!

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Crochet Charm Lace

Our bookshelves have filled with books of instructions for the cutest ever crocheted flowers, leaves, and other motifs. What can we do with all those sweet little things? We can make Crochet Charm Lace, a beautiful lacy cloth that uses up our yarn leftovers of all weights and textures.

Crochet Charm Lace Sun and Bluebird Doily

The best things about Crochet Charm Lace:

Crochet Charm Lace with Twirly Rose

  • You can make projects in any shape and size.
  • You can use up leftover yarns and reduce your stash.
  • You can mix together all kinds of yarns and weights of yarn.
  • Other than trying for a “firm” gauge, gauge is unimportant.

You can learn this fun technique in my 3-hour workshop about Crochet Charm Lace. In the workshop, we make a small table mat, like the Forget-Me-Not project below. To book the workshop, please email me at knitandcrochetwithsuzann at outlook dot com. You can crochet the motifs yourself as homework, or purchase motif kits from me.

Crochet Charm Lace with Forget Me Not Flower

Here are more Crochet Charm Lace projects. Enjoy!

Crochet Charm Lace in Interweave Crochet, Spring 2015
Dogwood Scarf. Photo credit: Interweave Crochet/Harper Point Photography

Crochet Charm Lace from Noro magazine
Credit: Noro Knitting Magazine Spring/Summer 2014, photo by Paul Amato for LVARepresents.com

Crochet Charm Lace Trillium and Violet Leaf Scarf

Crochet Charm Lace Television Scarf

Crochet Charm Lace Snow Globe

Crochet Charm Lace Pineapple Table Runner

Crochet Charm Lace Rose Poncho

Crochet Charm Lace Dream Home

Crochet Charm Lace Daisy Table Mat

Pink Crochet Charm Lace Scarf from Crochet Garden

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Artists, Watch for this Clue You’re Being Scammed

It’s great to get an email from someone interested in your art. I’ve made more than one sale through contacts by social media or email. But one “customer” was only interested in parting me from my work and my cash. Luckily, a suspicious mind saved me from losing anything. Here’s the story, which I hope will help you avoid art scammers.

A New Customer?

One day, an email from a Mrs. Robert arrived, asking me about my art. Yay! A possible customer!

How Scammers Target Artists, a Clue

A couple of things about the letter seemed odd, but I could make excuses for them. First, Mrs. Robert’s email server was ukr.net, a server located in the Ukraine. With recent news about Russian hacking and meddling in the United States election, I was on heightened alert about anything associated with Russia, which has clear interests in the Ukraine.

Pretty much anyone can sign on with pretty much any email server, so I wasn’t overly concerned.

Mrs. Robert didn’t write in English very well. Many phishing and scamming emails I’ve received are poorly written.

You don’t have to write good English or any other language, to buy a wall hanging, so I overlooked this fact. I sent Mrs. Robert a price list and directed her to my website to see pictures of my work.

A Sale!

How Scammers Target Artists, a Clue

How Scammers Target Artists, a Clue

Next time Mrs. Robert wrote, she said she wanted to purchase my most expensive piece, Puzzling Pinks, a wall hanging with lots of pink crocheted flowers and buttons. I was so happy! I gave her my mailing address, so she could send a check.

I sat back to wait for the check to arrive, before sending the wall hanging. Artists, do not send your artwork to someone you don’t know, until you have the money in the bank. What about sending artwork to people you do know? The best idea is to wait until the money is in the bank, but use your good judgement.

Two weeks later, Mrs. Robert sent another message:

How Scammers Target Artists, a Clue

Oh good. The check was in the mail. But one thing bothered me about this note. Do you notice that my name is a smaller font than the rest of the letter? The tracking number, which I have masked, was also in a smaller font.

This looked to me like an often-used form letter, which “Mrs. Robert” simply pasted individual names and tracking numbers into. After all, if it was written just to me, why would she change font sizes? My suspicions grew.

The Check

The check arrived. With it, I became even more convinced that “Mrs. Robert” was not quite on the level.

Though Mrs. Robert purportedly lived in Florida, her husband’s check was mailed from a hotel in San Antonio, Texas. It was a cashier’s check with a thermal marker (very impressive), from a man named Larry Bennett, issued by a bank in Colorado.

Okay, my husband and I have different last names, so that wasn’t really a problem. The problem was the amount of the check.

The check was written for $7,900, nearly $3,000 over the agreed purchase price of the wall hanging.

Woo hoo, right?!

Unfortunately, no.

The overpayment was a clear sign I was being scammed.

Scammers often send checks for more than the required amount. They apologize and ask you to please send a money order for the amount they overpaid. Their hope is you will do this before their check clears. Artists, elderly people, and many others, I’m sure, have trustingly sent the overage back to the so-called customer, only to find out that the original check wasn’t good. So you not only don’t get payment for your art, you lose the cash you refunded to the scammer.

I paced around the house, thinking about what to do. I talked to my family. My mom confirmed that overpayment was a scamming technique. She said, “Do not send anything until that check clears.”

My husband had a practical suggestion: “Call the bank and ask them about the check.”

We found the issuing bank online, and I called their customer service line. After asking me for certain information from the check, the bank’s representative said, “Ma’am, I can tell you now, that is a fraudulent check.”

How Scammers Target Artists, a Clue

My policy is to be polite, so I wrote to Mrs. Robert, telling her that I really needed a check made out in the exact amount we agreed on. It didn’t seem necessary to mention that the original check was fraudulent.

I never heard from Mrs. Robert again.

The Clue and What To Do

The biggest clue to a possible scam is that amount on the check is more than the agreed purchase price.

There’s really no excuse for sending a check written for an incorrect amount. I have made plenty of mistakes when writing checks. When that happens, you just void mistaken check and write a new one. Simple.

Other clues may include the fact that the customer has an unusual email server. Or you may notice odd facts about your communications with the customer. For instance, the font changes on my email that indicated a cut-and-paste form letter.

Pay attention to your instincts. When a situation continues to seem strange or off to you, it probably is. Be alert.

You can be alert and still be polite. Like I said about several things in my story, some unusual facts can be explained very easily.

If your online customer pays by check, it should be written for the correct amount. Allow it to clear your bank before you send your artwork or product to the customer.

Again, send your artwork only after the check clears and the money is in the bank.

Once more. Do not send your product until the payment is cleared at your bank.

Puzzling Pinks, textile art by Suzann Thompson

If You Have Been Scammed

Please report scams to authorities. You can find out how to report scams by searching “reporting scams” online.

If the scammer used the United States Postal Service, report the incident at their website. The Federal Trade Commission also accepts reports of scamming. Though they don’t investigate individual cases, these groups collect information, which may help them pinpoint a scammer. Your information can help.

What is Your Story?

Artists, do you have advice about how to avoid scam art purchases online? Do you have a scam story? Would you please share? Information helps us all.

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Snowman Boards Santa Train

Christmas Santa train felt kit, number 86365 by Bucilla

Last time I reported on my Christmas in July project, the Santa Train was being chased by a headless snowman. Poor guy! At least he got a head (ahead?) in Week 9, but it would be two more weeks before the snowman was finally able to climb aboard.

Six eyes Suzann

Because the snowman’s face had a lot of embroidery, I had to add Charles’s old reading glasses to my nose. They help me see the lines on the felt for embroidery, and thread the beading needle for sewing on sequins. With my bifocals and his reading glasses, I can see really well at a very specific distance from my eyeballs. Just an inch further or closer, and everything goes out of focus. Charles fondly calls me “six eyes” during these times.

Anything with stripes quickly runs through my quota of ten pieces per week. For instance, on the snowman’s scarf, each red stripe is one piece, plus two red fringe pieces. It doesn’t seem like I made much progress in Week 10, but ten pieces were definitely used.

Christmas Santa train felt kit, number 86365 by Bucilla

In Week 11, the snowman got his arms, and I could finally sew him onto the train. He still needed a candy cane to help stabilize his grip on the engine. Yep, the candy cane is another stripey piece that stretched out over two weeks.

Christmas Santa train felt kit, number 86365 by Bucilla

I finished the snowman’s candy cane in Week 12, and started a second cane.

Christmas Santa train felt kit, number 86365 by Bucilla

Four weeks to go! I’ll be sewing little gifts and ornaments to decorate the train. Yay!

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